Lions collapse as Dane Evans leads Ticats fourth quarter comeback in CFL classic

Photo Scott Grant /
Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/

With the newest class of Hall of Famers on hand, the B.C. Lions and Hamilton Tiger-Cats put on a show, especially in the final 15 minutes.

Simoni Lawrence controlled the game in his first action since serving his two-game suspension for his opening week hit on Zach Collaros. His biggest contribution came late: a sack giving the ball back to their side and then tipping a Mike Reilly pass which lead to a game-sealing interception, preserving their own comeback 35-34 win over the B.C. Lions.

The Lions dropped to 1-7 while Hamilton moves to 6-2 rebounding from last week’s loss in Saskatchewan.

Down six with 1:16 to play, Frankie Williams returned a punt 57 yards to set Dane Evans up for his first career comeback, after he found the ever-cool Brandon Banks in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. Evans completed 23-of-32 for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

It would be arguably Williams’ biggest return of the game when considering the situation. And that’s saying a lot, because earlier he returned a kickoff to the house after B.C. jumped out to their first lead in the opening half. He had 252 total return yards.

The Lions played their best game all year. Bryan Burnham and John White were unstoppable. The former had 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns while the latter had 124 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns himself.

It was a complete game for their offense, with two very common low-lights, their offensive line, and their special teams.

Despite the returns of Sukh Chungh and Joel Figueroa up front, Reilly was hit with four sacks in this one, making it 29 on the season and 17 in the past four games. He came up limping in the final minutes after taking a hit on a broken play. He was worked on and taped up by the trainers, came back and almost immediately took another sack. They got one more drive out of him but the tipped pass interception sealed the deal for the Tabbies.

Reilly went 21-of-28 for 306 yards, a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.

A little special teams trickery in the second quarter by Jeff Reinbold extended a Ticats drive which led to three points. The magic continued later on Williams’ kick return score.

That was the fourth touchdown the Lions allowed on a return, a league worst. Williams did it again right after on a punt, but it was called back on an illegal block.

The penalty cost them as the Lions reclaimed the lead on a short White run, which was set up on a marvelous Burnham grab.

B.C. extended their lead in the third as the Ticats couldn’t get out of their own way. Their defence took six penalties on a 12-play drive ending in a Reilly plunge. It ate up almost 6:30 on the clock as well.

Hamilton only had the ball for 2:40 for the entire quarter and trailed 33-19 after the first play of the fourth quarter, a Reilly touchdown plunge.

A field goal brought them closer with 10 minutes to spare, before a 12-play drive over three minutes got them within six. That was bolstered on a big 27-yard catch by Banks, who finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on nine grabs.

They got their defence off the field quickly which set the table for Williams return, and ultimately Banks’ winning touchdown.

The Lions are in Winnipeg next week while Hamilton is in Ottawa.